Editor’s note: Squarespace recently announced Squarespace Refresh, its annual release of new features and updates (including video monetization and custom merch tools). We’ll be updating this content with additional information in the weeks to come.
Looking to take your filmmaking, video-editing, or streaming talents beyond YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, or Twitch? A personal website filled with your best work can attract potential clients, grow an audience, and help flesh out your brand. It can even serve as an alternate source of income — think virtual classes or behind-the-scenes exclusives that are ripe for the monetizing.
As far as website builders go, Squarespace is a popular pick for creatives because it takes a streamlined approach to site management and design. With pricing starting as low as $14 a month, all of its plans include 24/7 customer support, unlimited bandwidth, performance metrics, SEO features, ecommerce tools, and SSL security. It also maintains a huge library of stylish, mobile-optimized templates that are easily customized using drag-and-drop page elements; you don’t need any coding experience to create a visually stunning site that runs smoothly.
Oh, and did we mention that all of those templates support video?
Truthfully (and depending on how decisive you are), this could be a blessing or a curse. On the one hand, you’ve got so many templates to choose from — 234, to be exact. On the other hand, you’ve got so many templates to choose from that it can be hard to settle on a select few, especially if you’re still not sure exactly how you want your site to look.
Below, you’ll find Mashable’s guide to choosing the right Squarespace template for video and a roundup of our current favorites.
What is a Squarespace template?
A Squarespace template or theme is a pre-built demo website that’ll serve as “a starting point to help inspire your site’s design,” according to its support center. You can leave that website mostly as-is and simply repackage the demo content with your own branding, or give it a top-to-bottom makeover with different colors, font packs, layouts, and content blocks — it all depends on how unique you want your site to be (and how much time and effort you feel like spending on it).
Templates work differently depending on the version of Squarespace you’re running. You’ve got two options as of June 2022:
Squarespace version 7.0 contains 91 templates it sorts into different “families” that share the same fixed structure and formatting options. Some experienced Squarespace designers prefer using this version because a handful of its advanced functionalities still aren’t available in the newer one (the Brine template family’s parallax scrolling effect, for example), but the inability to mix and match features from different families can make it feel inflexible.
Squarespace version 7.1 merged all 143 of its templates into one family, so all of them share the same features and style elements. The demo designs wind up looking a little more homogenous, but the trade-off is that you can easily switch between templates without risking content loss. Version 7.1 templates can also be built out using Fluid Engine (new as of July 2022), Squarespace’s next-gen, grid-based content editor; it offers more flexibility for block placements and layout options compared to the platform’s Classic Editor.
Some fine print: It’s technically possible to move from version 7.0 to version 7.1, but that usually involves a manual rebuild and a hit to your site’s search ranking. If you’re not sure which version you should use, go ahead and boot up Squarespace’s free 14-day trial — that’ll let you explore both before locking in a paid plan.
How do you add video to a Squarespace site?
You can add videos to your site in three different ways, which also depend on the version of Squarespace you’re running.
Embed videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Animoto, or Wistia using a URL or embed code. This works with video blocks, embed blocks, gallery blocks, gallery pages, cover pages, lock screen backgrounds, and some banners and product pages (depending on the template family) in version 7.0, and with videos pages, video blocks, embed blocks, section backgrounds, lock screen backgrounds, and some gallery blocks (depending on the site area) in version 7.1. You can even include livestreams from YouTube and Vimeo, but note that they may not work after the stream is over depending on your settings.
Upload .mp4, .m4v, or .mov files. Version 7.1 also lets you add clips directly to any videos page or section background (up to 5GB or 500MB, respectively). These play on the platform’s custom video player and feature editable titles, descriptions, URLs, thumbnails, and metadata. Note that all Squarespace plans come standard with just 30 minutes of high-resolution video storage, but you can upgrade by activating its Member Areas feature for an extra fee. (More on that in a sec.)
Swap static images for animated .gif files. Sound-free GIFs that play and loop automatically can go anywhere on your site where images are supported, including image blocks, banners, and gallery blocks. Both versions of Squarespace give you this option.
This one comes with an important caveat as well, which is that Squarespace doesn’t include any video metrics in its analytics tab. Plays of embedded videos may add to your total view count, but you’ll have to contact your host (e.g., YouTube) for more intel.
What other video tools does Squarespace offer?
Squarespace has launched a few cool new video-related tools within the past couple years, one being the aforementioned Member Areas feature. Add it to your plan for as low as $9 a month to unlock more video storage and the ability to gate certain content on your site, including virtual workshops, tutorials, packages, and newsletters. It makes a good in-house alternative (or supplement) to Patreon or YouTube channel memberships, as you can charge users a one-time fee or a recurring subscription for access.
The other new addition to its suite is Squarespace Video Studio, a mobile app that makes it easy to create premium videos you can share directly to your site and/or on social media. Featuring professionally designed video templates you can autofill with your site’s brand styles and product images, its AI voiceover tool and built-in teleprompter (with script length suggestions!) make it easy to whip up clips on the fly. It’s free to download with any Squarespace plan or trial, with full access unlocked for Business and Commerce subscribers.
How do you pick the right Squarespace template?
Squarespace’s templates tab lets you filter its library by Type and Topic, which should help you condense your pool of candidates quite a bit. Hit the “View Demo Site” button after clicking on any template to see what a live version could look like — very few include video, unfortunately, but keep in mind that they’re fairly easy to add almost anywhere on a site. Squarespace notes that “you may find it easier to start with a design that’s already close to how you want your site to appear,” so focus mainly on colors and layouts that catch your eye.
Need some better direction? Keep scrolling to check out seven Squarespace templates that work especially well for video right off the bat.
Note: Most of our recommendations are from Squarespace version 7.1, but we’ve sprinkled in a few options from version 7.0 that continue to stand out. Templates have been labeled accordingly.